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My introduction to this series is by way of apology. I am hoping that it will be a series of relatively short articles, knit together, bound by common language. It has been suggested that at my time of life, I should retire and leave the writing to the younger brigade. For various reasons, I have been requested not to follow my inclinations and I provide a few reasons.
America is still the bastion of freedom that it has always been but like any great country, it is subject to various pressures in any area you care to name. I think of America fondly as a country, which carried the Allied war effort against Hitler and his odious Nazi regime. I think of America as a country that carried the torch of freedom during that much misunderstood and intellectually denigrated period that we call the Cold War. The Western Allies of the US can be given some credit for their part in that great struggle and in smaller undeclared conflicts around the globe. But over the past 20 to 30 years, there has been a rather dismal trend about American politics and other aspects of life. In particular, I think of the way many Americans have turned their backs on science and the scientific method. Had this not been the case, Al Gore, the sainted one and leader of AGW around the globe would not have been allowed to get away with slack science, evidence that had been tampered with and statistics that had been massaged to suit the case.
This general revolt against the scientific method has been contagious in Western society. Science is not trusted because it brought nuclear weapons into existence and, to quote John F. Kennedy, the "power to destroy life on the face of the earth."That science also put man on the moon, and I am not going to succumb to political correctness and say humankind. The power of JFK's inaugural speech has stood the test of time and as a foreigner, I listen to it quite often. However, his call for a moon landing was even stronger and more powerful because it invited man to look at the stars and consider his destiny. I regret profoundly that domestic politics prevented the space program from continuing because by now, we should have landed on Mars. The proportion of the US budget spent on the space program was miniscule by comparison with the budget for weapons. That is not to say that weapons were not required and under Ronald Reagan, the U.S. Navy became the most powerful in the world.
Through various social movements, the underpinnings of our societies have been steadily eroded. My generation talks of the 1950s, the quiet decade which preceded the turmoil of the Vietnam War and associated protest movements. We were at war in the 1950s and Soviet repression in East Europe was brutal, none more so than in 1956 when Hungary attempted to break away from the Soviet model and I remember the radio broadcasts of anti-Communist forces begging and praying for US intervention.
Then the broadcasts ceased and we found out later that the Soviet ambassador in Budapest had played a canny game with the Hungarian leader Imre Nagy. It should come as no surprise to learn that the Soviet ambassador was none other than Yury Vladimirovich Andropov, known to some as "the Butcher of Budapest" and later head of the KGB and then First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. When dying, Andropov actively contemplated a first strike against the West especially the US, such was his hatred for America and the capitalist system and a morbid obsession, proven by later events that communist states could unravel quickly. Just in passing, remember the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu and his swift trial and execution in December 1989.
That the Communists had so many dupes and fellow travelers in the West, especially among elites and intellectuals continues to surprise, but the powerful influence of Karl Marx should never be underestimated, nor its influence in academe. It made little difference that early travelers to the Soviet Union were enchanted by deception, whether it be in the form of happy workers, Potemkin villages or first-class treatment. A whole generation was duped as Paul Hollander has pointed out so vividly in his book Political Pilgrims, which stands as one of the great texts of the Cold War.
Even today, it is astonishing to find that images of communist icons abound in the West from busts of Marx to T-shirts emblazoned with the idealized form of Che Guevara. I have even visited the offices of politicians and found pictures of Chairman Mao adorning the walls. Now, we have a younger generation believing that Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is building something new, which is decidedly better than the Western way of life. For those who do not value freedoms very highly and for the simpleminded, it's all too easy. And quite apart from those categories, Chavez is tweaking the Yankee tail and the anti-American left laps it up in large doses. At the same time, successive US administrations try to deal with the devil without any great success but the tin pot dictator of Venezuela harbors Hezbollah and terrorist groups whose aim is to destroy not only the West, its way of life and freedoms but to wipe the state of Israel from the face of the planet.
The law has become a jackass and lawyers are like sharks looking for blood. The legal system itself is too open to manipulation; prisons are not centers of rehabilitation but instruments of punishment that function as colleges of higher education for hardened criminals and increasingly, recruiting grounds for Islamic fundamentalists.
Then we have the case of the established church. Western civilization was built on Christian principles and ideals grafted onto Roman law, amended by English common law and in due course revised by the constitutions of various countries. However, the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness was common to all. I'm not going to simplify matters too much but Western liberal democracy as we know it today was increasingly modified by the secular humanist movement that started in France with the philosophes and The Enlightenment (Zeitalter der Aufklärung) of the 17th Century and the bloody revolution that followed. Then the Napoleonic law became a viable model for many Western countries and some of its features were exported to countries far away - consider Tom Paine and his Francophile tendencies.
With the advance of science, in the face of resistance from the Vatican, the church was slowly but surely undermined and with it, traditional authority. Many countries claim to be Christian but it is superficial. Religion has become a private matter and even in Italy, the Roman Catholic Church has not been able to maintain the allegiance of the population especially on matters of morals and doctrinal affairs. As for non-catholic churches, they are slowly fading into obscurity and quite possibly irrelevance. The new God is green and Al Gore is his prophet. To any believing Christian, we are stewards of the planet but not in thrall to some of the more far out doctrines, which claim we live in the end times. As a sometime student of history, we have always lived in the end times and have done since the events of the New Testament, when people believed the Second Coming was imminent. It is a very sobering experience to cruise the Internet and see just how many millenarian and apocalyptic doctrines attract so many people. It appears that we cannot believe any old faith and are desperately casting around for answers and new beliefs. In short, modern Western liberal democracy in all its forms is now lacking confidence and belief in itself and its history - it has had its feet kicked out from beneath. Having said that, we all know that nature abhors a vacuum and it is not surprising that the vacuum is being filled by a force that has deep roots in history.
To many non-Americans, the name of James Carville will not mean a great deal, despite being a familiar face on TV but for those who take an interest in US politics, his influence has been quite remarkable. During the presidential campaign of 1992, Bill Clinton's team made wide use of simple phrases, the most prominent being: "It's the economy, stupid," and it was part of the brilliant strategy masterminded by James Carville. It is widely reported that in order to keep the campaign on the straight and narrow, a sign hung in Bill Clinton's campaign headquarters in Little Rock with a simple message:
These simple statements became part of a slogan which helped to defeat George H.W. Bush, as several writers have pointed out. The word economy has been substituted for others for various reasons, such as the deficit, the oil spill, the math and so on, becoming as much part of the political rubric as the tendency to attach the suffix -gate to various events since Watergate. I have my own theory about education and politics. It involves the rapid transfer of information and rather disturbingly, dumbing down of the population to the extent that slogans are more powerful than ideas and we are shooting ourselves collectively in the feet because the 30 second soundbite on the evening TV news is now down to around 10 seconds and we have played ourselves into the hands of the hucksters of philosophy, who thrive on notions of increasingly rapid change, consumerism and entropy.
In the face of a complex world, we value simplicity and reject the complications of detailed problems - we have no time to sit and think, only to Twitter or send SMS messages. By way of digression, I became fascinated with the TV program Numbers and the mathematical genius Charles Epps. The story lines are never particularly complicated but the mathematical formulae conjured out of thin air by Charlie Epps quite often rang a bell with me because I was familiar with some of the mathematical propositions and theories but unfortunately, I think I was in a minority, as I am today. And so, it's time to cut to the chase.
Western liberal democracy stands at a crossroads in history. Whether we like it or not or choose to ignore it, we are at war and have been since the mid-1990s, because that appears to be the generally agreed time when Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda declared war on the US and Israel and by extension, Western society. In one of the strange quirks of life, on July 28 this year, the French government declared war on Al Qaeda in a formal sense (AFP) after the killing of a 78-year old French national engaged aid work in Africa, where he was taken hostage in April this year. French forces struck at an al-Qaeda camp in Mauritania, after French foreign Minister Francois Fillon announced in what were described as no uncertain terms that: "We are war with al-Qaeda." French counterintelligence and counterterrorist organizations have conducted operations against Islamic fundamentalists but usually behind the scenes in cooperation with some of the former Francophone colonies in North Africa. M. Fillon added in part: "It's a universal threat that concerns the whole world... not just France or the West."
In a sense there was a similar declaration by Pres. Obama after the aborted terrorist attack on Christmas Day 2009, conducted by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. It represented a milestone for an administration criticized by many for using weasel words and rubbery phrases to avoid words such as "fundamentalist," "Islamic"and "terrorist."
What follows in this series will be large self-evident and I make no apology. Practically every journal and website carries complex explanations of why Islamic terrorists appear hell-bent on destroying our society. By and large, America and the West in general is extremely rich in explanations but the problem seems to be that no one understands, wants to understand or tries to evade the issue.
This then is the first part of our dilemma: it's a simple problem that we ignore or do our best to rationalize away. It is endemic to Western society because our freedoms, values, norms and folkways lead us to be disinclined to stare truth in the face and admit that we have problems which involve violent solutions.
In Part Two of this series I will examine the key question of why we are at war with fundamentalist Islam and the unintended consequences of well-meaning democratic policy. From there, certain cases will be examined as paradigms and some of the lessons learned by the authorities spelled out in plain text.
Let us commence with the basics.
It matters little how you care to define terrorism. It has become almost an industry in itself as a quick Google search will show. The Random House dictionary defines terrorism as:
noun 1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2. The state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. A terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
It is pointless to argue about the origins of terrorism because it has always been with us since man first gathered in communities and became engaged in conflict with neighboring groups. Systematic terrorism is held to date from the French Revolution, when the Jacobins carried out systematic terror, making wide use of Mme. Guillotine, and as often happens, the inventor was one of the first victims. The French Revolution pointed to the more modern problem of the effects of terrorism on a population encapsulated in the French phrase: "Le grande peur" which usually translates into English as the grand or great fear, or terror.
Historians of the time noted the chaotic effect on populations by state organized terrorism and under various more modern forms of government, especially communism, Nazism and military dictatorships, the population is subjugated by implied or implicit threat, or as a refugee said to me,
"I lived in fear of the knock on the door at two o'clock in the morning. Some of my neighbors had vanished at that hour, courtesy of the KGB and they were never seen again."
Terrorism practiced by groups outside government has long been problematic. Yesterday's terrorist is today's freedom fighter and tomorrow's statesman and we have seen examples of that around the world over the past half century. Jomo Kenyatta and Nelson Mandela readily spring to mind and contemporary historians point to the fact that such people were seeking freedom and independence or throwing off the shackles of empire. Thus, in some cases the terrorists can be seen as having noble or lofty objectives and how many would deny Nelson Mandela a place in history as a great and dignified leader of his people?
Yet for those of us who served during the Cold War, there is always the recollection that the former Soviet Union clandestinely funded armed and trained groups around the world which claimed to be authentic liberation movements when in fact they were revolutionaries and terrorists. Indeed, there are suggestions that the current Russian government has links to certain terrorist organizations, a claim that will be examined later in the series. One last tedious note on definition:
"Acts of violence committed by groups that view themselves as victimized by some notable historical wrong. Although these groups have no formal connection with governments, they usually have the financial and moral backing of sympathetic governments. Typically, they stage unexpected attacks on civilian targets, including embassies and airliners, with the aim of sowing fear and confusion. Israel has been a frequent target of terrorism, but the United States has increasingly become its main target. ( See also September 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, Hezbollah, and Basque region.)"
The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Copyright ©2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Given that there is no internationally accepted definition of terrorism, I have sufficient respect for the American Heritage Cultural Dictionary to use the definition above for the purposes of this series. What it doesn't mention are various modes of terrorism, most notably asymmetrical warfare against government and terrorist attacks on the home soil of various governments, which are two sides of the same coin.
Readers of this series will be bored interminably by constant references to past experience. I make no apology whatsoever for adopting this course of action. During my time in intelligence, I was always aware of the injunction: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."(George Santayana 1863- 1952, Spanish born American philosopher poet and humanist). And I was always struck by another quote from the same person: "History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren't there."The universities are full of them!
If anything comes of this series I hope that it comes in the form of people remembering the past and being alert to those who would fiddle with history and airbrush facts, especially the most inconvenient variety, out of existence. And so, without further ado let us home in on the subject matter of terrorism.
Way back in June 1966, Robert F. Kennedy, brother of the slain President of the United States made a speech in Cape Town during which he said: "There is a Chinese curse which says, 'May he live in interesting times.' Like it or not we live in interesting times." There appears to be a consensus that the saying originated with the Chinese philosopher Confucius, although this has not been proven conclusively. It is used when a Chinese does not want to see someone happy but it is said politely in order not to sound offensive. (The original he is often transposed as you in modern times).
We live in very interesting times, and of that, there can be no doubt. Less than a decade after the end of the Cold War, America was attacked by terrorists. It now appears fairly conclusive that the first bombing of the World Trade Center in New York (the twin towers) on February 26, 1993, was carried out by people associated with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Even Wikipedia, which is not always given to great accuracy, concedes that a group of conspirators including Ramzi Yousef, Mahmud Abouhalima, Mohammad Salameh, Nidal A. Ayyad, Abdul Rahman Yasin and Ahmad Ajaj, used a fairly primitive truck bomb, described as a 1500lb urea-nitrate-hydrogen gas enhanced device which was intended to bring down the North Tower causing it to fall on the South Tower, bringing both to the ground.
The plot was allegedly financed by Khaled Shaik Mohammed, who is one of the more celebrated prisoners from Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) due to be tried in US courts, probably in New York in the near future. In the US, the conspirators received guidance from the notorious "blind Sheikh,"Omar Abdel Rahman, who was also involved in the killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane. Presumably some of the guidance was spiritual but the Egyptian "cleric"is fortunate in so far as he is serving a life sentence in a federal penitentiary in North Carolina.
The detonation was insufficient to destroy the World Trade Center but it caused considerable damage, as the truck bomb was parked in underground garage and the official casualty list comprised six killed and 1,042 others injured, many during the evacuation of the building - a lesson that was lost on the authorities, although it was claimed that security was improved.
According to some reports, which remain to be authenticated, letters from Ramzi Yousef were mailed to various New York newspapers shortly before the attack and there were three demands which can be taken as a common leaf motif for subsequent terrorist attacks. These are simple:
1. The US government was to cease all aid to Israel.
2. Cease diplomatic relations with that country and
3. pledge to end interference in the affairs of Middle Eastern countries.
Yousef claimed to be a member of the "Liberation Army, Fifth Battalion" and in his letters, he stated that the WTC bombing was an act of terrorism but justified by Israeli practices supported by the US - in short, meeting violence with violence. Simplistic in itself, these demand underscore ongoing demands made of the US and the Western alliance. They illustrate that there is nothing particularly sophisticated about the demands but realpolitik demands that we understand that these are deeply held beliefs and are not sustainable or achievable, let alone desirable in the interests of the US and its allies.
It comes as something of a surprise to those whom we might describe in a variety of forms as ranging from the intelligentsia to the ignorant that Al Qaeda actually declared war on the West. The genesis of the war cannot be proven conclusively because the first attack on the World Trade Center preceded the fatwa issued by Osama bin Laden in 1996 and again in 1998 and yet it is said to have his handiwork behind it.
In understanding the nature of the terrorist threat, it is important to recognize the position of Osama bin Laden (or Usamah bin Ladin[*]) and his importance as a totemic leader and revolutionary because he was and is in many respects the key factor in the scenario of terrorism, which has gained impetus over the past two decades. It has always been important for revolutionary movements and indeed, popular democratic movements to have charismatic leadership. There is nothing particularly new about that notion. From Pericles of Athens, Leonadis of Sparta; Julius Caesar, Emperor of Rome right through the Christian era, we have experienced the power of charismatic leadership. It has been a necessary precondition for revolutionaries across the ages and without delving too far into history, Vladimir Il'yich Lenin, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, Mao Zeodong, Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega and more recently Hugo Chavez spring readily to mind and you will note some are of the extreme left and others are their polar opposites but surprisingly, they have a great deal in common.
However, charisma is not the sole province of revolutionaries. Where would the US have been across the years with soldiers and political leaders such as George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, JFK, Ronald Reagan and add your own names whom you believe capture the greatness of America? (Long before I knew anything about American presidents, I knew about Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp and George W. Custer). Each Western country has had its share of charismatic leaders: for the UK there was a succession of monarchs with Elizabeth I being seen as framing an independent England and Britain; Oliver Cromwell, damned by many, praised by few, created the first truly modern army and of course, no contemporary Englishman will ever forget Lloyd George and Winston Churchill. France and Germany have their own heroes and I do not propose to list them but in passing it would be unfair to omit mention of Napoleon Bonaparte, Gen. Charles de Gaulle and in Germany, a succession of strong but not controversial chancellors since World War II, especially Konrad Adenauer, who have rehabilitated Germany from the scourge of the Nazis to being a responsible and reliable partner in Europe.
Unfortunately charisma is a word used fairly lightly and where some might ask why no mention is made of Elvis Presley and a whole host of entertainers who had enormous cultural influence, I tend to use charisma in the terms of the German sociologist Max Weber. I do not intend to sidetrack readers especially when it comes to translating from German. For the purposes of this piece, I would refer to charismatic leaders as people who can motivate the majority, galvanize them into action and possess what our French cousins call a certain "Je ne sais quoi" - a little of what cannot be grasped or perceived, let alone categorized. As an aside, in the last presidential election campaign the dominant personalities were Barack Obama and Sarah Palin and to a certain extent, they had charisma but it was of the variety usually attributed to professional image makers.
As they say in the classics, Osama bin Laden is a horse from a different stable. In a book I was writing with an academic about 9/11, I spent a considerable amount of time looking at bin Laden's background. It's common knowledge that he came from a rich Saudi family and volunteered to fight for the mujahedin in Afghanistan, against the Soviet armed forces. Without external support, it is my considered opinion that the Afghan mujahedin would have prevailed against the Soviets by attrition but with arms and training from the West, usually channeled through the Pakistani ISI and its contacts, the insurrection took on a different complexion. To use Soviet era jargon, the balance and correlation of forces shifted decisively against the Soviet armed forces. And it instructive to read Kremlin documents freely available, on the factions within the CPSU who were firmly in favor of intervening in Afghanistan, most notably the inner core of the Communist Party and the KGB, who prevailed over the views of the Soviet Defense Ministry and Soviet military intelligence - the GRU. And I have heard first-hand from former Soviet veterans of that conflict that even the much vaunted Spetsnaz (special forces) found the going extremely hard, like every power that has ever been involved in conflict in Afghanistan. For the Soviet Union, there was never a chance of victory in that country and 10 years of conflict exacted an enormous toll on the battlefield and at home.
An academic colleague of mine claims that the assistance to the Afghan mujahedin could be likened to forging a fine sword, tempered with heat and possessing deadly characteristics. He maintains that the sword turned in our hands and there is something to commend that view. What is abundantly clear is that the Afghan mujahedin was supported by the West militarily, with arms and training but it was in fact a jihad against the Soviets and as such, it drew Muslims from many countries into the conflict, especially from the Middle East.
By any judgment, the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan left a basically feudal society virtually untouched by the presence of Western influence and the tribal infighting, which is characteristic of Afghanistan and other countries in the region, continued because the Soviet legacy was an unpopular Afghan leader, whom they had chosen, Mohammad Najibullah, the former head of the Afghan secret police (KHAD) allegedly elected with a new constitution and a pacification program devised by CPSU 'experts' something of a misnomer. The Geneva Accords of 1988 which led ultimately to the Soviet withdrawal in early 1989 left Afghanistan in ruins and virtually ungovernable. This is a critical period of history and one day, someone will join the dots. The tragedy is that US and allied interest in the country waned dramatically after the Soviets withdrew and before the year was out, the Berlin Wall had fallen and the writing was on other walls for the USSR and its satellite states in Eastern Europe.
It is axiomatic that nature abhors a vacuum and it could scarcely be described as surprising that Pakistan took advantage of the situation to secure its own borders and at the same time ensure that an Afghan regime would be friendly towards Islamabad. The "hidden hand" in subsequent events, was, it would appear, the Pakistani ISI and its formidable leader Lieut. Gen. Hamid Gul.
The tragedy of liberal Western democracy is that it has a tendency to forget key events and even the modern attention span has decreased markedly. So, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
[*] There are considerable problems for Western intelligence in the transliteration of Arabic to American English. I have opted for the most common usage in spelling of Arabic names but the US State Department has its own lexicon, which I would normally use but not in this type of document.
Part Two will examine the crucible of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism and the events leading to 9/11.
Notes, Part 1
There is a joke which varies from country to country and it concerns primarily, cities built close to the sea and where untreated sewage is pumped out to sea for disposal. Needless to say, with the wrong tide, it is a case of getting your own back. According to legend, a respected dignitary believed there was no problem dumping raw sewage at sea and to prove the point went for a swim. As reporters gleefully recorded later, it was a question of "going through the motions." Terrorism is not a frivolous matter but in many respects, our reaction to it is very similar to the fool who went swimming.
Despite the fact that the 1980s and 1990s saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, we can now look back on that period as one of missed opportunity. There was more than a little triumphalism in Western capitals at the demise of the USSR. With the virtual collapse of the superpower rivalry and ideological struggle that had taken up the best part of 70 years and the dangerously misnamed Cold War, academic opinion held that there was only one superpower, namely America. The economies of the West were generally buoyant and in what some described as a seminal work, the US academic Francis Fukuyama wrote of the End of History (1992) which elaborated on an essay written in late 1989.
I confess to a certain amount of skepticism about the general thesis that liberal democracy would be the contemporary model of government and therefore, there would be a diminution and finally cessation of major wars in the long term. I also felt strong disagreement because while economists were talking about increased globalization, lowering of tariffs, migration of labor, the Cold War had taken a toll on the US economy, raising indebtedness, which seemed to point to a reckoning sooner or later. Russia was convulsed firstly by near bankruptcy and a long economic recession, which appeared to militate against any thoughts that the Russian state would embrace Western-style democracy and a free market economy. The appalling behavior of the so-called oligarchs was untenable and most certainly unsustainable and while corruption was rampant, the Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who had been something of a hero when the Russian parliament was attacked by reactionary forces, went on to make a fool of himself at home and abroad.
Without wishing to appear wise after the fact, I had always believed that a revived Russia would strive for modernization and a place on the stage. The rise of the siloviki - the men of power - led by Vladimir Putin, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the KGB led me to believe that autocratic government would follow. He had been described by Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin, who had elected to stay in the West as something of a nonentity. However, it was evident to me that he was well-connected in St. Petersburg and soon began to consolidate his power. Few alarm bells rang in the West because Russia was certainly not in a position to exercise power on the world stage, although with its vast natural resources, it had the potential for economic power and a stranglehold on the economies of dependent European countries.
By now, the reader will be asking why I am continuing to talk about Russia. The answer is that to coin an old Communist phrase, everything is connected to everything else. The Russians had left Afghanistan with a puppet government in place but no means of supplying aid or support to Najibullah. The Western powers cut their losses and left Afghanistan to its fate. There followed a revival of tribal warfare notable for its savagery which resulted in the overthrow of Najibullah's government and near anarchy. For a country that has been almost ungovernable for most of its history, it was clearly a case of situation normal, all fouled up.
As I indicated at the end of the last instalment, nature abhors a vacuum and a force arose in the tribal frontiers of Pakistan and then set about taking over in Afghanistan. The Anglicized version of the name Taliban (alt.Taleban (Pashto, meaning "students") appeared harmless enough and certain elements of the Western press - otherwise known as the usual suspects - heralded their arrival in Afghanistan through Kandahar as a sign that given time, they would restore peace and order.
Afghanistan had been in a parlous state immediately after the Soviet withdrawal because when aid from Moscow was withdrawn, conflict between rival tribal forces deposed Najibullah some three years later (1992) and then proceeded to fight among themselves over the spoils of victory but in so doing, alienated probably the most important element in the Afghan population, namely the Pashtuns. The written history of Afghanistan during this period makes for grim reading with atrocities committed by all sides and, facing the legacy of the struggle against the Soviets, which left land mines and other explosive devices everywhere, killing and maiming a great many people but especially those who were trying to raise crops.
In one sense, Afghanistan had been left high and dry by the rest of the world. Its main crop was the opium poppy and attempts to wean farmers from growing the plant met with failure. It continued to be the basis of the Afghan economy and a thorn in the side of law enforcement agencies around the world as sundry US government reports gloomily noted. However, before discussing Afghanistan and the Taliban in some detail, I want to outline a parallel problem, which has a greater potential for international conflict.
Afghanistan, Pakistan and India
The English translation of the name Pakistan means land of the pure in Urdu and Persian. The name is believed to date from the 1930s but it was part of the British Empire until the end of World War II, when the process of decolonization commenced, hand in glove with independence movements. The map of the whole region was essentially redrawn in Whitehall and when India formally became an independent state in August 1947, Pakistan was established as a separate Muslim state. It proved to be highly unstable with East Pakistan and West Pakistan divided geographically and ethnically with the disputed territory of Kashmir, ruled by India being a corridor between the two states. The original provinces of Sindh, North West Frontier Province, West Punjab, Balochistan and East Bengal were formally united with the adoption of the constitution in 1956 as an Islamic republic. A mere 15 years later, a civil war in East Pakistan resulted in the creation of Bangladesh and this writer is on the record as saying that the next potential breakaway state is Balochistan, more of which later in the series.
Both Pakistan and Afghanistan are strategically placed in their geographic region. Pakistan has been in continual dispute with India, its Hindu neighbor since independence and there have been three major wars, one minor war and numerous continuing armed skirmishes between the two countries. With the exception of the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, the official reason for the conflict was Kashmir, which is still regarded as disputed territory but not by the Indian government. All of the wars were 'won' by India, which commenced the road to becoming a nuclear power in the mid-1950s under the "Atoms for Peace" program, the principal objective of which was to use nuclear power for civil projects and through agreements with the governments concerned, head off a nuclear arms race. Rather than get bogged down in details, I regard the Federation of American Scientists as being a pretty reliable source of information and they have extensive documentary information on the nuclear programs of both India and Pakistan.
It is axiomatic that with India becoming a nuclear power, Pakistan would have to follow and while I do not wish to diverge from the central argument of this series, I will briefly mention that a central figure in Pakistan obtaining the status of the nuclear power was Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, who trained in West Germany, principally in critical centrifuge technology and through his efforts, the Pakistani program was completed earlier than might have been anticipated. He is also believed to have dealings with North Korea and was only recently released from house arrest. According to some sources, "AQ" is the father of the 'Islamic bomb' and possibly had dealings with Syria and other countries pursuing nuclear weapons. This has caused considerable angst in Western governments because the thought of terrorist groups gaining access to nuclear weapons is the fabric of nightmares.
During the Cold War, the Indian government, while ostensibly and officially neutral, was regarded as sympathetic to the Soviet Union and a leader of the Third World. As a counterweight Pakistan was supported by both the US and China, with the latter having an ongoing border dispute with India in the Himalayan mountains. This flared into a war in 1962 and was fought in the Himalayas and across glaciers but it was a curious conflict because neither side used either their navies or air forces - it was left to the respective armies. Coinciding with the Cuban missile crisis, it received little worldwide publicity and the casualties on the PRC side are unknown but the Indian forces exceeded 7000. Occasional skirmishing is still carried out and the unresolved status (at least in Indian minds) of Tibet and the Uighur homeland has the potential to complicate relations between the two most populous nations on earth.
Sometimes it is forgotten in the West that Pakistan is the sixth most populous nation on earth, and ranks behind Indonesia as having the second largest Muslim population, comprising mainly the Shia branch of that religion. It is my view that to make sense of the international terrorist problem today, we must examine forensically and dispassionately as possible, the events in Afghanistan and the relationship between that country and its neighbors. However, I do not intend to write a history book. "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
When the British Empire became the British Commonwealth and most major nations achieved independence, the British had left in their wake local administrations, which very much mirrored old colonial precepts. Both India and Pakistan established intelligence organizations, national armies and in their early incarnations, they were very British in tradition. Even in the 1970s and 80s, most of the officials I met from those countries would be equally at home in a British officer's mess and the working language was English. It was no surprise that when the decision was made to intervene against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency, more usually known simply by the acronym ISI would be used as a conduit to the Afghan mujahedin. In its early days, the ISI was trained by the UKSIS, more popularly known as MI6 but the CIA took the lead role in arming Afghan guerrillas. (They were all guerrillas or freedom fighters in those days because they were on "our side," while to the Soviets, they were naturally enough terrorists and bandits and in private, "ragheads" a disparaging term for those with a dark complexion.
Integral to the establishment of the links to the Afghan mujahedin was Lieut. Gen. Hamid Gul of the ISI, a gifted and well credentialed intelligence officer, who nevertheless is no stranger to controversy. He is credited widely with being a key figure in organizing the anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan and as head of the ISI at the time, he worked closely with the CIA. Whether he became acquainted with Osama bin Laden, a field commander with the mujahedin during that period, is not known but after the Soviet withdrawal and the cessation of aid to the Afghani insurgency, Gul became increasingly bitter about the lack of support from the West and although he was, like most Pakistanis a Shia, contact with the foreign volunteers led him to become more tolerant of the Sunni/Wahibist strain of radical Islam, found in the Middle East.
There is little doubt but not a great deal of proof to support the contention that under Gul, the ISI supported the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and fomented trouble with India through support of insurrection in Kashmir. During the war against the Soviet army, he is credited with the capture of Jalalabad from the Soviets in early 1989, although there was a heavy cost borne by the mujahedin. I am not in the fortunate position of knowing the complexities of what followed but it has been claimed that the Pakistani army was intent on installing a fundamentalist dominated government of Afghanistan with Jalalabad as the provisional capital. It was during this period that General Gul became involved in organizing an Islamic right-wing political party,, known variously as Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (the Islamic Democratic Alliance) in opposition to the Pakistan People's Party. There is no small amount of irony in the fact that the PPP had been instrumental in commencing the Pakistani nuclear program and as such, should have commanded more loyalty from the Army.
In the event, the IJI was barely competitive at elections although it wielded considerable power in the Punjab and it was from there that Nawaz Sharif emerged to challenge the PPP and Sharif became prime minister in 1990. Amidst interminable turmoil, he served just over two years before being dismissed by the Pakistani president and was later succeeded in power by the late Benazir Bhutto. However, Sharif was reelected for a second term in 1997, and was instrumental in the first tests of the Pakistani nuclear weapon in 1998. Notable also was his closeness to the Army and relationship with Gen. Gul.
It is a fact of history and not recognized particularly well in the West that in 1998 Nawaz Sharif proposed a law to create an Islamic order in Pakistan, where the legal system to be based on the Koran. He told his fellow countrymen that the proposed bill was a charter of duties and not power. According to Pakistani news sources, had he been successful, the existing Civil Code would have been replaced by the sharia and Sharif would have been declared Amir-ul-Momineen which is translated as Commander of the Faithful, a term that is pregnant with meanings in both the Islamic and non- Islamic worlds. The proposed law found its way through the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, where it needed a two-thirds majority to be accepted. In the event, martial law was declared in the Northwest on the borders with Afghanistan and the amendment failed in the Senate. Before Sharif could move further, his government was dismissed by the military under Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
Despite the fact that this legislation was defeated conclusively by circumstances rather than legislation, Pakistan is and remains an Islamic state and sharia law is found in many provinces, especially the more unruly regions where the central government's control can be considered loose at best.
In exile, Sharif was considered to be an influential opponent of General Musharraf and his attitude to sharia law remained strong. Indeed, it says a great deal for the Pakistani press and its freedom at the time that reports were carried of meetings between Nawaz Sharif and Osama bin Laden, revealed by a discontented ISI officer who had been dismissed for being outspoken. This officer claimed to have been involved with the other key actors in the establishment of the IJI and had arranged meetings with bin Laden in Saudi Arabia in 1988. Apparently bin Laden was not terribly convinced by Sharif's commitment to jihad and consequently gave the latter a smaller amount of finance that he had requested in order to fight the government of Benazir Bhutto. However, Sharif met leading members of the Saudi royal family and they arranged for his release after the military coup in 1999 and gave him exile in Saudi Arabia.
In a nutshell, Pakistan came perilously close to becoming a state where sharia law would be implemented, largely because of the efforts of Nawaz Sharif and behind him, Lieut. Gen.Gul and others of a like mind. Some idea of the full impact of sharia law can be gained by reference to the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan until US-led intervention, to be covered in the next article. The most important conclusion to this part of the series is that America's allegedly staunch ally during the Cold War nearly became a fundamentalist state in the 1990s. It is also important to emphasize that the militant form of Islam had gained considerable ground in that country. In many respects, while attention is centered on Afghanistan, the West has every reason to be suspicious of developments within Pakistan, irrespective of whether they are government policy.
While the attention of many in the Western intelligence communities is focused on Al Qaeda because of 9/11, an equally lethal group exists within Pakistan and within the Pakistani diaspora abroad in the form of Lashkar-e-Taiba (L-e-T/LeT) - the Army of the Pure. To cite the testimony of an American expert on the subject, LeT was founded in 1987 by Hafiz Saeed, Abdullah Azzam, and Zafar Iqbal as the armed wing of the Markaz Dawat-ul Irshad (MDI), the Center for Proselytization and Preaching, which sought to realize a universal Islamic state through tableegh (preaching) and jihad (armed struggle).
In his testimony, and that of a year earlier, Mr.Tellis considered LeT to rank second after Al Qaeda as the most important terrorist group operating from South Asia. He points to similar objectives between the two groups but states unequivocally that: "...unlike Al Qaeda, which is truly a stateless terrorist organization, LeT remains primarily Pakistani in its composition, uses Pakistani territory as its primary base of operation and continues to be supported extensively by the Pakistani state, especially the Pakistani army and the ISI. (2010 page 2) As we have seen, prominent military and political figures have fully supported the implementation of sharia law in Pakistan and LeT has an ideology based on establishing a universal caliphate through jihad at home and abroad.
While there is little doubt that LeT was originally established as a quasi-military body, with its headquarters in the Pakistani administered area of Kashmir and a history of fomenting trouble in that area including terrorism against India (and in all probability being behind the Mumbai hotel raid of November 2008). I tend to disagree with Mr. Tellis on the danger it represents to the West. Often overlooked is the number of Pakistani communities abroad to the extent that the Pakistani diaspora is sizeable, extensive and the majority are in a relative sense (compared to rural peasantry) well-educated. In due course, the problematic relationship between the US and Pakistan will be examined in the context of the current situation. Suffice to say, one of the deadliest warnings was produced by The Economist magazine (UK) in an article entitled: "A single space; Islam in Britain and South Asia" (May 2, 2009) which dwelt on the Pakistani diaspora and the fact that "theologically as well as socially, Muslims in Britain and their countries of origin form a seamless whole." The Economist also produced a well-written article in its issue of December 11, 2008 entitled "Rogue Elephants" which was part of a small series covering militant attacks inside Pakistan.
There are countless other papers written, which touch on the subject. I wrote a series of articles following the Mumbai attack and then the ensuing and markedly similar attacks on the Police academy in Lahore and the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in the same city. The conclusion of LeT involvement remains basically unchanged and unchallenged. And the international reach of LeT has been amply demonstrated in the past few years.
While the US government regards Pakistan as an ally in the conflict against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the situation can be compared to clasping an asp to the bosom in many respects. As a direct consequence of his anti-American, anti-Western and pro-bin Laden views, Lieut. Gen.Hamid Gul has been placed on the US governments watch list of global terrorists. According to the New Testament, a person is known by his deeds to which we might add his words. In a revealing interview conducted in August 2003, the general stated: "God will destroy the US in Iraq and Afghanistan and wherever it will try to go from there." From assisting the West in the campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the general has turned to a belligerent anti-American, anti-Western stance and is known to be a supporter of Osama bin Laden. He has also been extremely active in promulgating the proposition that Mossad and the CIA were behind the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.
That will be dealt with in a later article but Part Three will examine the terrorist lead-in to that catastrophic event and once again, demonstrate that the West has a proclivity to forget evil actions rather easily.
Notes, Part 2
 FAS (Federation of American Scientists): Indian Nuclear weapons
and Pakistan Nuclear Weapons.
 The US, despite being preoccupied with the Cuban problem
provided material aid and support to India. Two useful references for
the interested are "The China-India border war (1962)" by Lt. Cdr, J.
B. Calvin U.S.M.C.
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1984/CJB.htm and Maxwell, Neville, India's China War (London, 1970)
 Irfan Khan: "Balance Sheet of a Dictatorship",
http://www.dawn.com/weekly/mazdak/20080823.htm Dawn, August 23, 2008 and "Nawaz Sharif met Osama three times: former ISI official",
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_23-6-2005_pg7_34 Daily Times, Thursday June 23, 2005
 It is a sobering thought that Foreign Policy in
conjunction with The Fund for Peace lists Pakistan at No.10
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/06/21/ 2010_failed_states_index_interactive_map_and_rankings on its Failed States Index. I see no reason to dispute the ranking given the dimensions used to rank countries.
 Testimony of Ashley J. Tellis, Senior Associate of the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to the US House of
Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on the
Middle East and South Asia - March 11, 2010.
 Prepared Testimony by Ashley J. Tellis, Senior Associate,
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to the United States Senate
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Lessons from
the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks, Part II, January 28, 2009
http://hsgac.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction= Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=f117251e-16da-4fac- 929b-9d2991bdd14b&IsTextOnly=False.
 See also "The diaspora effect" by Shiraz Maher Prospect
magazine, issue 142, January 2008 and "Born in the UK: Young Muslims
in Britain" written by Hugh Barnes and published in 2006 by the
Foreign Policy Centre (UK). Also highly informative on Islamic
radicalism and terrorism is: "Britain hub of terror" by Gordon Thomas,
published by Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin on September 21, 2006.
 God will destroy America says Hamid Gul"Daily Times
(Pakistan) August 30, 2003 and a currently unavailable interview on
the website run by one of the usual suspects in the anti-American
media, Robert Fisk. Robert-Fisk.com September 14, 2001
In this section of the series, the author explores the emergence of the Taliban and Al Qaeda from the conflict zones of Afghanistan and how Al Qaeda began its campaign against the West.
Authors note. To be factually correct, Al Qaeda should be spelled al-Qaeda and the same principle holds for any number of names preceded by the suffix al. Rather than throw the baby out with the bath water as some in the US press have done, referring to Al Qaeda as merely Qaeda, I have elected to use the most common form. No doubt, pedants will point to a myriad of spellings and variations especially the differences between the British and American press. I take the view that a rattlesnake is still a rattlesnake, irrespective of whether you want to call it something else.
Somehow during the modern technological revolution, either by design or neglect we appear to lose chunks of our collective memory. Quite apart from TV, various portable devices have become part of everyday life. Do readers remember The Walkman, an original by Sony because now we have MP3 players and iPods that make the old device redundant, either discarded or shoved away down the back of drawer. I had three and I know that two now live among my socks and the third is gathering dust somewhere else. The 30-second soundbite so beloved of TV stations is down to about 10 seconds and with it, our attention span. So as we are just under a month away from the most dreadful anniversary, I thought I'd briefly quote a few lines from the song usually performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Soon we all forget, how soon we forget
Soon we forget, oh
Well, take a look around and you will see
Soon we all forget, oh, oh
So many people have got it worse than me
Oh, can't you see how soon we all forget?
Credits: Buchanan, Pat (Songwriter); Johnson, Robert White (Songwriter); Van Zant, Donnie (Songwriter); Van Zant, Johnny (Songwriter); BUG MUSIC (Publisher); L & K MUSIC (Publisher); PLAY YOUR HORN MUSIC (Publisher); RYKOMUSIC (Publisher)
At the end of Part Two, I mentioned how close Pakistan came to being governed by Sharia law. However, I omitted an extremely important rider; namely that I was talking about the areas under control of the central government of Pakistan, if it can be called that, and certainly not the tribal areas especially the North West Frontier Provinces. These are dangerous areas where the Taliban and Al Qaeda find refuge in wild country and the locals are caught up in the struggle. As good Muslims, they adhere to what they are told by powerful figures among the forces ranged against the US and its allies. Indeed, a US writer has noted that despite the American and allied intervention to defeat the Taliban in 2002, whole regions of Afghanistan and provinces of Pakistan operate under what the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom described in 2003 as Taliban-Lite.
It is not particularly easy to tease out the constituent elements of the forces that fight against the US in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan. There have been instances of internecine strife between Sunni and Shia but they are united by two important principles. The first is obviously to defeat the US and secure a withdrawal of troops, while the second is predicated on the establishment of a worldwide caliphate. A subsidiary issue is terrorism in the West, which we will come to fairly soon but as I have been trying to emphasize, we must look at history.
The objectives of the Taliban today are exactly the same as those that were introduced when they first appeared on the scene in the aftermath of the Soviet withdrawal. Afghanistan had been left in tatters, with 1.5 million dead and more Afghans living outside the country in exile than suffering privation at home. Some estimates run to 2 million people living in refugee camps in Iran and other countries. The more fortunate migrated to the west. Under the circumstances, with warlords battling for supremacy, the emergence of the Taliban between 1993-96 appeared to some to be a purifying and uniting force. As mentioned previously, there is nothing mysterious about the word Taliban - it literally means the students and was comprised of students of various description. They were usually part-time or full-time students at madrassas - the Islamic schools which we in the West ignore to our peril. But like any mass movement, the Taliban needed disciplined leadership, framed in such a way as to instil order and it does no harm whatsoever to have an air of mystery or near miraculous ability in a leader.
As far as can be ascertained, the Afghan Taliban found Mohammed Omar (pictured), an itinerant teacher/preacher who apparently owed no allegiance to any tribe or group. He had fought against the Soviets with distinction and being wounded four times and had lost an eye in the process. He was, according to one writer, possessed of a reputation as a pious ascetic. His reputation grew as he dispensed summary justice to those who were perceived to have committed criminal offenses, by means of hanging them from the barrel of a tank - a favorite means. He was particularly harsh on rapists and the Taliban attracted support as news of a charismatic leader spread. Furthermore, he appeared to represent the Pashtuns, who had been decimated by the Soviets and marginalized by warlords.
Kandahar fell to the Taliban in 1994 and proceeded to expand its control through occupation of Herat and by September 1996, Kabul, the capital city was in the hands of the Taliban, who proceeded to eliminate many of the warlords; provide their version of law and order and impose strict Islamic sharia law on the country, declaring it to be the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan but there was no designated Emir. There is sufficient anecdotal as well as official reports to suggest that in the first few months, the international community welcomed the reestablishment of order in Afghanistan. In a way, only the hardest heart could not feel sympathy for the people of Afghanistan. After 17 years of hard and bitter war, it had the highest maternal, infant and child mortality rates in Asia and 10 million landmines dotted the landscape.
As mentioned in the previous article, the Pakistani ISI provided support for the Taliban, in terms of training, matériel and quasi-legitimacy. For many outside analysts, the Taliban was seen as a cat's paw of Lieut. Gen. Hamid Gul. From sometime in 1994, Pakistan under Benazir Bhutto recognized the Taliban as the protectors of convoys through Afghanistan and by 1997, the legitimate rulers of country and by year's end in 2000, 95% of the area was estimated to be under their control, which given the geography, topography, loose borders and wild country it could certainly be considered total.
The Clinton administration initially supported the Taliban as a counterweight to Iran and in some respects it can be seen as a continuation of the policies of President Reagan. There were sound reasons for trying to deal with the new government because the US had interests in the area including potential oil pipelines but disillusionment grew quickly. In September 1996, a State Department spokesman expressed the hope that the Taliban would: "move quickly to restore order and security and to former representative interim government that can begin the process of reconciliation nationwide." That spokesman described the summary execution of former President Najibullah as regrettable but moves to establish diplomatic relations with the Taliban government were fiercely opposed by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who was certainly not impressed by the way the Taliban treated women and introduced regressive and repressive policies.
This brings me to a quick description of what those policies were; what they meant in everyday life and why the West should be united against the forces that would seek to implement Sharia law and associated practices in a worldwide Caliphate. And let me be clear at this point. A senior Taliban functionary stated in an interview with the German media Weltwoche that the Taliban and Al Qaeda were as one and although the interview dates from 2007, there is little doubt that the general line of reasoning had been operating principles for the Taliban and its allies from the 1990s. The interviewee was Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, brother of a slain former Taliban military leader. He was specifically asked about the relationship between Al Qaeda and the Taliban and his response was that they had warm and friendly relations and shared aims. He emphasized that the Taliban was separate from Al Qaeda but more importantly he stated: "Jihad is a duty for every upstanding Muslim. Jihad must not be restricted to Afghanistan or Iraq. Ours is a global struggle and I have promised Allah that I will spread it across the world until the end of my days."
The fears of Madeleine Albright were all too understandable and undeniably correct from a western standpoint and proven by the Taliban in action. Apart from acts of vandalism on a grand scale, which included the demolition of historic monuments, such as the Buddha statues of Bamiyan and was intended to purify the country, by then the West should have realized what the Taliban was all about. It has been stated that during their first period of rule, their objective was to establish a puritanical caliphate that neither recognized nor tolerated forms of Islam divergent from their own. The Taliban's version of Sharia law has been described as a close kin of Saudi Arabian Wahhabism but far more perversion than interpretation. It is said to be historically inaccurate, contradictory, self-serving and fundamentally deviant from prevailing interpretations of Islamic law and practice. For those who seek to excuse excess, this is what I would call a cop out, especially given the close relations between the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
The Taliban, in common with most Islamic states condemns democracy or any secular or pluralistic political process as blasphemy and an offense against Islam. In short, any dialogue with them is one-sided. However, should there be any lingering doubts about the brutality of the Taliban, there are adequate examples of their rule. It has been said by many that Islam is an unreconstructed religion which has remained basically the same since the sixth century. Unlike Christianity there has been no reformation and very little moderation. Among the most savage repression conducted by the Taliban, their war on women stands out. The Taliban government produced a long list of the and decrees which were particularly misogynistic.
Schools for girls were closed; women were forbidden to leave their homes without verifiable permission; wearing non-Islamic dress was forbidden and with that went an absolute ban on makeup, fashionable shoes, nail polish and dress accessories. Music, dancing, cinemas and any form of nonreligious broadcasting was forbidden: the penalty inevitably was death - after being beaten or flogged, the guilty was shot or beheaded. Beheading is almost a public spectacle in Saudi Arabia despite the protests of Western governments but with the Taliban, it was more than a spectacle being intended to be a demonstration of the fate of those who deviated from the true path.
A decree announced by the General Presidency of Amir Bil Maruf and Nai As Munkar (the notorious Taliban religious police) in late 1996.
Women you should not step outside your residence. If you go outside the house you should not be like women who used to go with fashionable clothes wearing much cosmetics and appearing in front of every men before the coming of Islam.
Islam as a rescuing religion has determined specific dignity for women, Islam has valuable instructions for women. Women should not create such opportunity to attract the attention of useless people who will not look at them with a good eye. Women have the responsibility as a teacher or coordinator for her family. Husband, brother, father have the responsibility for providing the family with the necessary life requirements (food, clothes etc). In case women are required to go outside the residence for the purposes of education, social needs or social services they should cover themselves in accordance with Islamic Sharia regulation. If women are going outside with fashionable, ornamental, tight and charming clothes to show themselves, they will be cursed by the Islamic Sharia and should never expect to go to heaven.
All family elders and every Muslim have responsibility in this respect. We request all family elders to keep tight control over their families and avoid these social problems. Otherwise these women will be threatened, investigated and severely punished as well as the family elders by the forces of the Religious Police (Munkrat).
The Religious Police have the responsibility and duty to struggle against these social problems and will continue their effort until evil is finished.
The draconian nature of the regulations given above is but print. In practice, they transcended anything that we in the West and even those who lived under communist governments would regard as civilized. Films smuggled out of Afghanistan during the early rule of the Taliban is truly horrific. In my various discussions with people who have lived in Iran under the Khomeni regime state that Afghanistan was truly horrific, even by day-to-day standards in Tehran. This is the type of barbarity, misogyny and total control that Islamic fundamentalists want to see imposed on a worldwide basis. And yet, we have far too many people who make excuses for the excesses of the Taliban. Ask yourselves this: is this the way you want to live or see your children raised?
It is a fact of history that Osama bin Laden moved to Afghanistan (Kandahar) in 1994 as a guest of Mullah Omar (pictured), who was referred to by some as Amir ul-Momineen, or commander of the faithful and if that does not ring a bell in the mind of the reader, I respectfully suggest you look at the previous issue and Pakistan. It has been reported that Osama bin Laden declared war on the West in 1996, while there have always been anecdotal accounts that his hostility to the US in particular dated from the end of the campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Having disposed of the would-be imperial power (the USSR) it would appear to be quite logical that the attentions of Islamic fundamentalists would turn to those whom they regard as the Great Satan and the Lesser Satan - the United States and Israel respectively. The reasons appear fairly clear: the United States, more than any Western country, represents Western liberal democracy, the free market and individual rights and freedoms which are anathema to fundamentalist Muslims. The hatred directed against Israel is historic and pan-Arabic.
Although Israel has to take sometimes extraordinary actions to safeguard its security, the greatest problem is that it is democratic and seen as an alien outpost in the Middle East. Furthermore, if it can be dignified as such, there are claims that Israel is occupied Arab territory and therefore by definition must be wiped from the face of the earth. Certainly the current president of Iran believes this to be the case and claims religious legitimacy for his views.
From the mid-1990s, militant Islam was on the march against the West and a campaign of terrorism commenced. According to some accounts, Osama bin Laden sponsored a group called The World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders (WIFJAJC), later reinstituted as Al Qaeda. Afghanistan was the strategic base from which operations were directed. (Just a gentle reminder; Al Qaeda translates as the base - nothing more).
I noted in an earlier article that the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center had all the hallmarks of the handiwork of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden yet it took place before bin Laden officially declared war on the West. It has also been established that the US was very lucky in that the damage could have been much more considerable and endangered the WTC, killing more than the six dead and nearly 1000 injured. Quite recently, it was suggested that the Oklahoma bombing was connected to Al Qaeda through the person of Ramzi Yousef, and there certainly are questions that need to be answered. The Oklahoma City bombing was, until 9/11, the single most devastating terrorist attack on American soil, claiming the lives of 168 people including 19 children under the age of six. In addition, nearly 700 people were injured. Reports of this incident and the official documentation can be found easily on the Internet and I do not propose to dwell further on the matter because the possible Al Qaeda link remains in the proverbial "too hard" basket. The only reason for mentioning it in this context is that it spawned a massive growth in conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists, which adds to the general confusion surrounding historical events and to some is seen as grounds for condemning the US government and its own agencies for terrorist activity on home soil.
In 1998, on August 7 there was a series of simultaneous truck bomb explosions directed against US embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi with a combined death toll of 238. The military retaliation by the Clinton Administration was directed against targets in Sudan and Afghanistan which were asserted to be associated with the WIFJAJC but the Tomahawk cruise missiles failed to kill any leaders of that group or those who claimed responsibility, the Egyptian Jihad. According to an article published in the New Statesman (UK) on March 20, 2000, the military action was to divert US domestic attention away from the activities of Bill Clinton and a White House intern. Be that as it may: in Sudan, the destroyed chemical plant produced antimalarial drugs and its destruction provided enemies of the US with ample propaganda. It also served to obscure the deadly attacks on the US embassies.
In 2000, US authorities and allies managed to thwart a series of attacks known collectively as the 2000 millennium plots. The hand of Al Qaeda is deemed to have been seen in these incidents but the one that attracted my attention most was a bomb-laden motorboat, crewed by militants in the port of Aden, Yemen, on January 3, 2000. The target was an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS The Sullivans, named after World War II heroes. The attack boat sank before it could reach its target, apparently because it was overloaded with explosives. Then, on October 12, 2000 came the attack on the USS Cole, once more in the port of Aden.
This was a suicide attack, again conducted by motorboat and responsibility was claimed by Al Qaeda. It claimed the lives of 17 US sailors, while a further 39 were injured in what has been described as one of the most deadly attacks on the US Navy during peacetime. The attack took place at 11:18 local time, while the USS Cole was refueling. A small craft approached the port side and detonated what was estimated to be over 1000 pounds of explosives and it hit the galley when many of the crew were lining up for lunch.
Notwithstanding the official line of the U.S. Navy and without casting aspersions on any expert involved, I have been told privately that the USS Cole was extremely fortunate and the damage far greater than the official sources revealed.
In many respects, this is the type of asymmetrical warfare commenced and subsequently refined by Al Qaeda. It prompted a propaganda broadcast by bin Laden which was seen as a recruitment pitch. The attack was apparently planned at an Al Qaeda summit held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2000. Among the notables who attended were Kahalid al-Midar then traveled to the US where he made the acquaintance of the now notorious Anwar al-Awaki, later identified as being the "9/11 imam" who has been linked to more recent terrorist atrocities including the shooting at Fort Hood and the "underwear bomber" of 2009 and now has the distinction of being targeted by the US as a terrorist threat. In short, to be terminated if capture is not possible.
I have only briefly referred to Israel in this series but there can be no doubt that they are as much a target, perhaps even more so, than other Western democracies. I have a profound professional respect for Israeli intelligence. However, what is more impressive is part of their national psyche, which can be summed up in two words: "Never again." This is usually linked to the persecution of the Jewish people in Europe during World War II and surely, this genocidal period provides more than an ample justification for the declaration that they will never let it happen to them again. In fact, the history of the persecution of Jews is centuries old but the genocide and the postwar establishment of the state of Israel has endowed those two words "never again" with a particular meaning. The Jewish people do not forget either their enemies or their friends.
My next article in this series is where the rough stuff starts because it brings 9/11 into play and with it, hints of conspiracies and speculation unmatched by anything in recent living memory and that includes the JFK assassination and the UFO controversy. It is a nightmare for intelligence and intelligent people. The reason I have taken so long to get to this point is simple. Islamic terrorism against the West did not begin with 9/11. When that day is commemorated, every single citizen of Western democracies, who believes in our rights and freedoms, hard-won across centuries should give pause for thought. We could do worse than pledge ourselves never to forget those who died prior to 9/11. The relatives and loved ones of those who lost their lives in terrorist attacks prior to the World Trade Center attack of 9/11, 2001, have their memories and their grief. Those who were lost at the embassies and aboard the USS Cole are among the honored dead. We should never forget them.
Notes. Part 3
 Pierre Tristam History of the Taliban: Who They Are, What They Want
 "Ours is a Global Struggle": an interview with Taliban military chief Mansoor Dadullah. Urs Gehriger and Sami Yousafzai World Polics Review July 3, 2007
 See 1 above
 Western moralizers have to be extremely careful when it comes to using execution as a deterrent to others. On March 14 1757 Admiral John Byng was executed by firing squad - in the Solent on the forecastle of HMS Monarch. He was shot as he did not do his "utmost against the enemy, either in battle or pursuit." These are the words of the Articles of War. Byng was the last of his rank to be executed in this fashion. In the delightful words of the French maritime enemy, it was an execution "pour encourager les autres" literally to encourage the others.
 The Oklahoma City Bombing: Was There A Foreign Connection? Chairman's Report, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee presented by Dana Rohrabacher (R-Ca). Available on the Internet as a PDF.
 It is not my intention to discriminate numerically between Westerners and locals killed in specific incidents. To the best of my ability, I will present the official total of casualties.
 "Bad air and rank hypocrisy" by Malcolm Clark. New Statesman March 20, 2000.
 The 9/11 Commission report available as a PDF
John W. Miller is a former senior intelligence officer with NATO and
allied forces, with considerable experience in Russian (Soviet)
affairs and counterterrorism. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction, Parts 1-3 appeared from August 3-16, 2010 in FSM
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